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New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts captures the spirit of women working in digital media arts and education in the Midwest. These pioneers made essential contributions to the international technological revolution, helping to catalyze what we now think of as the age of digital and social media.

Our Herstory Screening Room features works that emerged from seminal events that took place at the University of Illinois and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1980s-2000s, in a fertile environment combining social feminist change, artistic energy, and technological innovation. While women artists in Chicago, marginalized in traditional venues, built a network of independent galleries and exhibit spaces to house and highlight their work, interdisciplinary Renaissance Teams at the University of Illinois developed advanced academic computing communities that created a bridge to the humanities and forged new partnerships between the artist and the scientific environment. Behind this revolution lay a history of social change, artistic innovation, women’s civic leadership, and breakthroughs in science and technology.

Please enjoy a curated video art selection of featured works that were included in New Media Futures:

Brenda Laurel : Purple Moon - 'Secret Paths' TV Commercial, 1997

"The right question, I think, was the one we asked, “How do girls and boys play?” “What’s really going on here?” “How can we take play patterns that girls really enjoy in other parts of their lives and incorporate them into some kind of comput-er-based study that they have that draw the thing that will pull them across the threshold of getting their hands on a computer?” That was the over-riding goal that led to founding Purple Moon. Once we figured out that we could actually build something that could live in popular culture, we could start a company. We started thinking about content at that point. We knew some things by then about play patterns that related with both cultural and brain-based differences."

Purple Moon was a pioneering, American developer of tween girls' video games, founded by Brenda Laurel and others with support from Interval Research in Mountain View, California. Purple Moon's first two original games, 'Rockett's New School' and 'Secret Paths in the Forest' were released in 1997. Both games encouraged meaningful values of friendship and personal empowered decision-making. Purple Moon's games catalyzed a strong girl games movement in the 1990s. Laurel's groundbreaking research, innovative ideas, authentic designs and published writings continue to influence and inspire new generations of women trailblazers who played her games today.

Courtesy of Brenda Laurel. Featured in 'New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts'.

Learn More:

Herstory Lightening Talks:


Purple Moon/TED talk:



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